In recent years there’s been a lot of discussion over the best posture for the congregation to assume during the praying of the Lord’s Prayer.
For the priest there’s no real option: he prays with hands held upwards and apart. This is known as the orans position (from the Latin word for “praying”). It has been the most classic prayer-posture down through the centuries. All at once it evokes adoration and thanksgiving to God who is Greater than the one praying, as well as supplication for blessings which only God can give. Speaking as somebody who uses the orans posture a lot, I can tell you it also just feels right: maybe since it’s not a gesture we use in other kinds of communication it gives a sense of prayerfulness that’s hard to get otherwise.
But – other than indicating that all are to stand – Catholic rubrics (liturgical rules) are silent regarding any official posture for the rest of the assembly during the Lord’s Prayer at Mass. Many people do not consciously choose any prayer-posture at all, which is hardly a good thing. Some fold hands reverently, a traditional and very acceptable possibility. Many find holding their hands open in front of them, in a “receptive” gesture, very prayerful. In some places hand-holding has been tried, but in general it’s not a well-thought-of solution. Aside from its novelty, it overemphasizes the human community at the expense of God who’s being addressed. (And, personally, when some people shake their raised, joined hands at the end I find it hard to suppress a giggle! I wonder why they do this? It looks silly!)
The bishops of our country have recommended the “orans” position as an optional posture for everyone in the congregation. I do too. More and more people are rediscovering this very traditional posture, and how it enhances the prayer. Feel free to try it if you’re comfortable with it!